Purple Yam finds its way back home in Malate

This New York-based Filipino restaurant is set to open tomorrow, July 4.

(SPOT.ph) There was no way to contain the bold flavors of Purple Yam. Owned by married couple Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa, the restaurant is a brick-walled intimate setting in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. The menu isn’t strictly Filipino-tocino and sisig share space with bibimbap and curry-but it’s decidedly familiar and definitely representative of the variety you’ll find in the Philippines. Purple Yam gives patrons something to look forward to by offering exciting meals that made the likes of New York Magazine and The New York Times sit up and take notice. The restaurant which, in a way, introduced New Yorkers to Filipino food is finally heading its way home-in Malate.


The Besa ancestral home has been converted into a 24-seater, by-reservation setup that, unlike its New York flagship, is available only during weekends, starting tomorrow, July 4. "The philosophy and approach to food will be the same, however, we are just going crazy with the ingredients that we are discovering here in the Philippines," says Besa. "We have so much underutilized fruits, vegetables, herbs, livestock, et cetera."



Chef Romy Dorotan in Purple Yam Malate’s kitchen. Photo from Purple Yam’s Facebook page.


The goal is to push for local-which, ironically, isn’t a common situation in the Philippines. Purple Yam aims to promote local farmers and fishermen, and small producers. "The message is let the market reward those who are trying to do good.  Let every peso we spend on food go back to those who work hard to nourish and sustain us," says Besa. The Purple Yam team is making their way around the country, discovering ingredients, exploring flavors, and understanding various regional culinary techniques. Items like salts, bagoong, sugar, and patis differ in profile depending on how and where they’re grown.

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Besa describes their cuisine as "re-imagined Filipino food." "We want to awaken the palate of people and make them understand how diverse our flavors are and that our food is truly complex and rich in nuances of these flavors," she explains.


This weekend, some of the savory options include Seafood Paella with Tinawon Heirloom Rice, Sorsogon Shrimp, and Crab; Kinilaw na Baluko; BBQ Pork Spareribs; Pineapple Tarte Tatin with Tsampoy Ice Cream, and more.


To further showcase that diversity, Purple Yam is also planning to invite guest chefs to highlight fare from particular provinces. "When we invite a guest chef who comes from a particular region, we would like him to bring all his produce, livestock, seafood if possible with him or her," says Besa. They’ve already spoken to Chef Cocoy Ventura, who returned to Isabela after a successful culinary career in San Francisco, to guest.


Just like in New York, Purple Yam Malate, there’s always something to look forward to in this local version. Besa’s own excitement-"every little discovery reaffirms and strengthens my love for this country, my people, and my food"-is only adding to our own anticipation.



Purple Yam is at 603 Julio Nakpil Street corner Bocobo, Malate, Manila. For inquiries and reservations, contact 0926-713-3523 or e-mail acbesa49@gmail.com.

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